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Split large packs of paracetamol, pharmacies told

By Isabel Shaw

20 Mar 2020

The rules on breaking down large packs of paracetamol into smaller packs has been relaxed in light of supply shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pharmacists are now permitted to split packs of the medication up in order to sell them in smaller quantities over the counter, after the RPS sought clarification from the GPhC.

Pharmacy staff have been encouraged by RPS to ‘prioritise people who need medicines rather than rules around licensing or packaging over their care,’ when faced with professional dilemmas.

The organisation assured pharmacists they will support their professional judgement but warned staff they must be prepared to justify some of their decisions.

The body suggested pharmacies ‘risk assess’ situations, ‘make a record of the intervention in the PMR and check [that they’ve] got the right bulk pack, name, quantity, ingredients, expiry date and batch number’.

They also told pharmacies to decide upon a ‘quantity that’s appropriate for the person needing it’ and make sure the ‘labeling for that new quantity is correct’ and includes everything a typical medication label would.

Pharmacies are also told to ‘print and supply a patient information leaflet from electronic medicines compendium (emc)’.

The RPS also warned that it will not support excessive pricing, in light of some pharmacies inflating prices of common drugs like paracetamol as customers continue to panic buy.

The move comes as 80 medicines, including paracetamol, have been banned from parallel export, to ensure a consistent supply for UK patients who need them during the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, The Pharmacist reported that pharmacy wholesalers had run out of paracetamol and ibuprofen leaving community pharmacies struggling to restock.

The full RPS guidance on splitting packs of paracetamol is available here.

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